From GuitarAttack World Headquarters....
Has anyone heard of Ritchie Blackmore? How about Yngwie Malmsteen? What do these two shredders have in common?
Aside from both being prolific Strat Masters, these two gents prefer fingerboards that are scalloped. According to Mr. Malmsteen, the scalloped fingerboards allow the truly burning shredder to really burn without the wood of the fingerboard getting in the way of the flying left hand.
This neck is an example of the scalloped fingerboards we do from time to time. We have a real, live Fender Custom Shop Malmsteen Strat, but every so often there is something great about a hand-scalloped fingerboard. Just to be sure you understand, the scalloped fingerboard has the wood scooped out between the frets.
Scalloping a fingerboard is not for the timid...or the beginner. There are several issues that you have to be aware of. First, the common challenge is to get the scallops too deep, hitting the side markers on the side of the neck. You can see these on eBay from time to time, and they are easy to recognize because they look like a black line going from the top side of the neck toward the center position marker. This is caused by back technique.
The second common challenge is to tear the dickens out of the metal frets with your scalloping tools. You'll see quite a few with big, deep scars on the fret wire from scalloping attempts.
The way to start with the job is to mark your depth on the dot marker side of the neck. This will ensure that you don't go too deep (again, a very common problem). Once the depth is marked -- we use masking tape, we use a MicroPlane round rasp to hog out the middle of the frets to the proper depth. Using smaller planes, we work the scallop up to each fret, ensuring we have a smooth transition -- sort of a little half-pipe.
Once the rough scallop is formed, we use a variety of round fixtures to sand the scallop. These include sandpaper wrapped around Sharpie pens, super glue containers, 1/4" dowels, etc. The bottom line is to find tube-like things around the house to use as sanding devices.
Once we got the rough sanding complete, we cut the headstock and sprayed the neck with nitro lacquer. We didn't tint the lacquer because we wanted the neck to look current. After two weeks of curing, we sanded the neck down with MicroMesh pads and polished it out with 3M FinesseIt II.
Yes, you have to spray the fingerboard on a maple neck. We use razor blades to get the lacquer off of the fret wire. Try to scrape it while the lacquer is still soft.
Anyway, try this at your own risk, and remember -- once you scallop, there is no going back!
The Poor Man's Yngwie S-Style
When we got the neck done, we put it on a Fender Mexican Strat body. It was not a direct fit, and it did take some sanding and trimming to get it to fit. We used fishing line (as fake strings) to align the body with the neck prior to actually screwing the neck on. It is pretty simple -- use a piece of fishing line to represent each E string. Use masking tape to attach it to the neck at the nut and the bridge. Move the neck in the pocket until the fishing line strings are aligned with the pickups and the neck. Take your time -- this takes a little practice and demands patience to ensure the alignment is perfect.
Once the neck was installed, we set about to make a new nut. Because the Saga fingerboard is a different radius than a Fender (about 12" for the Saga, and 9.5" for the vintage Fender), a premade Tusq nut will not fit properly because the radius is wrong. We made a custom nut from a Micarta blank from StewMac, and it turned out pretty well.
Once the neck fit perfectly we installed the decal and sprayed several more coats of lacquer on the headstock. We let it dry for about three days and buffed it out. Once nice and shiny, we installed the Gotoh tuners with Schaller knobs and a single string tree.
Below are photos of the finished product.
SAFETY TIP: WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THAT YOU BUY A VINTAGE OR EXPENSIVE GUITAR FROM EBAY! THE FAKES ARE JUST TOO CONVINCING.
This rig --
our Poor Man's Yngwie Strat -- is
for our personal use, and if we decide to sell it, we will remove the Fender
decal. BTW -- we still have a Fender neck in our junk room...any
YNGWIE! YNGWIE! SHRED! SHRED!
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